Frustrated by your e-learning? eWorkshops could be the answer…

A lot of eLearning Nomad blog readers are already familiar with the eWorkshop concept. This post is for those of you who might be new to the idea.

The eWorkshop model was my own answer to what I found lacking in the way e-learning was designed and delivered over 10 years ago. E-learning was either a self-paced module (a la Articulate), a webinar or a copycat version of the online learning offered by universities. None of these approaches were appropriate for the people and organisations I was working with. They didn’t do justice to the complexity of the subjects and the challenges of the work environments. I also felt strongly that the vast majority did not respect adult learning principles.

Not much has changed since. The sector is still dominated by the same traditional trio: self-paced e-learning, webinars and university-type solutions. As a result, organisations that value practical and participatory techniques (as part of a learner-centred training philosophy) decide to stick to their face-to-face programmes. Until they come across the eWorkshop approach.

eWorkshops have the following characteristics:

  • They are built on a backbone of team and whole group tasks (not mere discussions)
  • The tasks are complex real-life problems.
  • The learning journey is fully supported by an expert e-facilitator.
  • eWorkshops are mostly asynchronous (not in ‘real time’).
  • They are self-paced (do the work when it suits you) within the specified time frame and set deadlines.
  • The duration usually ranges from 5 to 7 weeks.
  • They require a learner commitment of 5-6 hours per week on average.

Solving real-life problems together with other people in the same field supports that deep learning and application of skills that’s so often lacking in traditional training, be it in class or online. It’s great for networking too.

We use the eWorkshop model when it is important that people bring their own work experiences to the learning event and when the learning outcomes are best achieved when people learn together.

eWorkshops work best for subjects where there aren’t clear right and wrong answers, where solutions to problems depend on people’s perceptions, where answers depend on people’s own context, and where participants benefit from networking opportunities.

In fact these are the same reasons why in the past we would have suggested to deliver a face-to-face workshop instead of offering e-learning. Not anymore though. If we want a strong human touch in our learning events, yet a lack of resources or other conditions prevent us from organising face-to-face workshops, then eWorkshops are usually the answer.

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